“By the time he got home, it was too late to take Paola and the children to dinner, as he had promised he would do that evening; besides, he could smell the mingled odours of garlic and sage as he climbed the stairs……
….’Alright’, she said, agreeing to leave it. ‘Let’s eat. I have chicken, and artichokes, and a bottle of Soave.’
‘God be praised’ he said, getting to his feet and pulling her up from the arm of the chair. Together they went into the kitchen”
-Donna Leon, Death at La Fenice
Donna Leon’s detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti, is blessed with a (usually) understanding wife, who is a superb cook – but they are a busy couple with a family, and it’s usually something simple that she conjures up. This dish is a summery Mediterranean roast chicken recipe – quick and easy to make, which goes particularly well with wild rice, although that would not be a very Venetian combination (that’s where the books are set).
In any case, this is how I imagine Paola would have made it. Drink it, as she suggests, with a bottle of cold white wine.
Recipe for Paola’s One Pot Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Mushrooms
- 60ml/¼ cup olive oil – use the oil that the artichokes are in
- 60ml/¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 60ml/¼ cup red vermouth
- 3 fat cloves of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- 15 grinds Indonesian long pepper
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 4 generous chicken quarters
- 200g/1⅔ cup sliced mushrooms
- 530g/1lb 3 oz jar artichoke hearts in oil – drained
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 lemons, cut into thinish wedges
- sprigs of rosemary, thyme or sage
- Preheat the oven to 210°C.
- In a small bowl mix the oil, vinegar, vermouth, garlic, salt and pepper and mustard. Leave to marinate overnight, or as long as you can.
- Place the chicken quarters, skin side up, in an ovenproof, ceramic baking dish.
- Arrange the mushrooms, onion, artichokes, lemons and herbs around the chicken.
- Pour over the marinade.
- Roast for an hour.
Music to cook to
Leon’s Death At La Fenice has a plot which centres around a performance of La Traviata – below you can listen to Maria Callas performing this fabulous opera.